I don’t want to take this book back to the library: Brooklyn Modern, Architecture, Interiors & Design. Author Diana Lind paired with photographer Yoko Inoue to create this interesting book in 2008. It’s that rare book about architecture and design that leads you to actually read the words, not just look at the pictures. There are thoughtful and engaging essays that go with each home profiled, and Jonathon Butler’s The Romance of Renovation – about his love affair with an 1860 brownstone in Clinton Hill – makes the reader want to go stand in his neighborhood and soak up the atmosphere. Want to pretend you’re doing so? Just visit Brownstoner.com, Butler’s blog/website about Brooklyn real estate.
The homes are carefully chosen, represent many Brooklyn neighborhoods, and are categorized into three sections: Aesthetic Improvements, Gut Renovations, and New Work. New Work includes a brand-new house built in the narrow lot between two existing homes, and using their outer walls as the inner walls for the new house – one concrete, one brick. I like my neighbors, but wow! the concept of that kind of intimate relationship between the homes is quite a mind shock.
A key thing about the homes photographed in Brooklyn Modern: these are not high-end, designer-styled magazine shoots. These are the homes of real people who have jobs, kids, and interests. They wear blue jeans, own books and musical instruments, and like furniture that can take abuse. Theyuse recycled materials not just because they’re trendy, but because their cheaper. And the spaces are fun, engaging, attractive, interesting, in fact, places where I could see myself living in an alternate, Brooklyn universe.